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"We can’t afford to get this wrong," Aussie farmers say about climate goals

15 October 2021

The bright and prosperous future of farmers and regional Australians depends on the Government getting its climate change commitments right, says Australia's National Farmers Federation (NFF).

The NFF stresses that an important part of this is to provide a just and supported transition.

 

“Right now, is a moment in time in which we can change for the better how, as Australians, we value the natural environment and how we recognise and support farmers who are stewards of 51% of our nation’s landmass,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.

“We can’t afford to squander this opportunity. Australia must get this right.”

The NFF backs an economy-wide aspiration of net zero emissions by 2050 with two important caveats:

  1. That an economic pathway is identified and
  2. Farmers aren’t burdened by unnecessary red tape

“The NFF has been crystal clear and steadfast in our discussions with the Government: climate change policy must chart a course for agriculture and the bush to not only survive but thrive in a reduced emissions future,” Ms Simson said.

Farmers are at the forefront of climate change. Agriculture both emits greenhouse gases and has an enormous capacity to sequester carbon. The Government’s climate change policy must recognise this. It must acknowledge the major progress that has been made already in reducing emissions, especially by the livestock sector.

“Everyday farmers across the country are taking real climate action and are primed to play an even larger role in Australia’s lower emissions future. But we need support, investment and innovation by the government on behalf of the community.”

Ms Simson welcomed existing Government initiatives to reward farmers for the work they do in managing biodiversity and remnant vegetation and in improving soil health. This represents a transformational take on the intersection of farming and natural resource management. A shift from a stick to a carrot approach, will see both farmers and the environment benefit.

“We urge the Government to go further and explore market-based solutions that connect farmers and their carbon sequestration capability. To do this effectively farmers need the technology, systems and knowledge to establish recognised and consistent baselines.

Ms Simson said the NFF supported the work led by Emissions Reduction Minister, Angus Taylor in this space.

“For farmers this means ongoing investment in measures that enable and assist us to engage in markets that reward improved biodiversity; that help build and maintain sustainable soils and a sustainable ecosystem services regime. This will include ensuring we use the best science and measurement tools available.”

Ongoing investments are needed by government to support the development of innovations and technology to allow farmers to take advantage of the opportunities for emission reduction within production agriculture.

“Farmers have learnt from the painful lessons of the past. In moving forward, farmers want past injustices addressed and fixed. Agriculture cannot and will not, be treated as the globe’s carbon sink. Farmers are the backbone of rural and regional Australia, keeping supermarket shelves stocked and the economy ticking, during the ongoing pandemic.

“The outcome of these negotiations should represent a major reset and an unmistakable opportunity to back in Australian farmers and the rural and regional communities they support.

“It’s time to position Australia as leaders on climate change, with a policy and commitment farmers and all Australians can be proud of,” Ms Simson said.



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